Black Friday buyers beware: if it sounds too good to be true…
Posted in News on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 4:33 pm by Courier Times health reporter Jo Ciavaglia
Of the hordes of pre-dawn shoppers who line up for hours outside stores on the day after Thanksgiving, most will not bag the best bargains that appear in merchants’ circulars.
Look at the fine print that appears next to an advertised “doorbuster deal” at the bottom of the page in this year’s circulars.
It will either say “While supplies last,” “Minimum 2 per store,” “No rainchecks” or “All items are available in limited quantities.”
A quick scan through a few of this year’s Black Friday circulars show quantities as low as a “minimum of 5 per store” on some models of large plasma and HDTVs and popular brands of home appliances such as a washer-dryer pair.
Craig Johnson, retailing expert and president of retail consulting group Customer Growth Partnerssaid it’s not enough for retailers to mention that they’ll have such limited quantities of a product on one of the most-hyped shopping days of the year.
Unfortunately for consumers, more less-than-honest examples abound.
Limited quantities. Advertising a Black Friday deal as “limited quantities” is bogus, said Johnson.
“The only time it makes sense to have only two or three [items] in stock is if the deal is on a $2 million gift product that appears in the Neiman Marcus holiday catalog,” he said.
A derivative of what?
Some of the holiday electronics with those low sale prices are derivatives, models that have a few less features than a standard model in that product line. The difference can be subtle. Most consumers probably won’t even notice the difference.”
A report earlier this month in Consumer Reports called attention to HDTV models from Samsung and Sony advertised in Black Friday deals that appear to be “derivatives,” said Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and editor of Consumer World.
The report said these one-off TVs “with unfamiliar model numbers” are usually cheaper than the standard model in their class.
Retailers usually don’t advertise these models as derivatives. There’s no way the average consumer will know that the TV model they are buying is not the standard one unless they are savvy enough to compare their model numbers.
Which Black Friday deals are online? “Many retailers will say that their Black Friday deals are available online,” said Dworsky. “But they’re not nice enough to tell you which ones.”
”Since retailers don’t have a live inventory online you run the risk of getting an e-mail weeks later that your order had been delayed or worse, cancelled, because the product is out of stock,” he said.
About those rainchecks. Finally, if a retailer does offer you a raincheck on a deal, it could still turn out to be an empty promise, warned Burt Flickinger, managing director of consulting firm Strategic Resource Group. A raincheck doesn’t guarantee that you will eventually get that elusive Black Friday deal.